Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be able to prevent the growth of colon cancer cells, according to a new study in the journal Cancer Letters.
The study found that both DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) inhibited the growth of human colon cancer cells in mice, although DHA proved most effective.
Researchers at the University of Nevada in Reno, US measured the effect of DHA golden algae oil, fish oil (omega-3), and corn oil (omega-6) supplements on the growth of human colon adeno carcinoma in mice. The animals received one of four specialised diets: low fat with corn oil (omega-6), high fat with corn oil (omega-6), high fat with fish oil (omega-3 EPA and DHA), and high fat with the algae oil (omega-3 DHA).
Researchers measured final tumour weights in each group to assess the effect of each different diet. Animals consuming a high-fat corn oil diet had an estimated tumour weight of 2,302mg, while the low-fat corn oil group had an estimated tumour weight of 1,681mg. Animals in the fish oil group had tumours of 782mg - a 66 per cent decrease in growth compared to the high-fat corn oil group and a 54 per cent less than the low corn oil group. The golden algae oil group finished with a mean tumour weight of 223mg, a 90 per cent reduction in growth compared to the low-fat corn oil group.
The researchers concluded: "These findings indicate that dietary omega-3 fatty acids possess significant tumour suppressing properties and that the primary tumour suppressing fatty acid is docosahexaenoic acid."
The DHA was supplied by US company Martek Biosciences. Its DHA, derived from microalgae, has previously been shown effective in suppressing cancer growth. Clinical data demonstrating that its DHA suppressed human breast cancer metastasis in mice was presented at the 21st Annual Breast Cancer Symposium in December 1998.